The Los Angeles Lakers will look to make it two in a row as they return to Staples Center to host the Denver Nuggets. The purple and gold secured their first win of the season on Wednesday against the Phoenix Suns but the Nuggets, expected by many to reach the playoffs, will pose a much bigger challenge. The Nuggets are undefeated with a 4-0 record while the Lakers are still getting their feet under them at just 1-3 to start the year.
Here’s three things to look for when the Nuggets head to LA:
The Nuggets surprisingly boast the best defense in the NBA (tied with the Celtics) to start out the season. While the Lakers have been putting up ridiculous point totals in their four contests, they will need to execute beyond fast breaks to score against this Nuggets team. Much of that responsibility will fall on LeBron James and Lonzo Ball for creating opportunities for teammates but the Lakers need everyone to be focused on that end of the floor.
The Lakers’ success against the Suns came mainly due to having more shooting possessions than their counterparts. The Suns came into the game turning the ball over at an astronomical rate and that did not change against the Lakers. The Nuggets, however, take care of the ball (tied for eighth in the league in turnover rate). With the Lakers reliance on transition offense, creating more turnovers defensively will be a major key to getting a victory.
Defending Nikola Jokic:
Defending has been an issue for the Lakers as a whole but Jokic poses an interesting and unique challenge. The Lakers have resorted to doubling in the post, often, as a result of their propensity to go small but doing so against Jokic leaves them open to being picked apart by the best-passing big man in the league. Leaving him to work one-on-one will limit three-point attempts but the center is more than capable of scoring and drawing fouls at the rim. The Lakers will look to Johnathan Williams, a two-game revelation, to guard Jokic in the minutes that JaVale McGee is not playing. Williams will need to stay out of foul trouble and hold his own enough as to not force Luke Walton’s hand in doubling the post against Jokic.